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Let's Talk, Milwaukee: A Community Conversation on Rape Culture

Amanda Lee
Monday night, UltraViolet, a national women’s organization, commissioned a series of projections that went up on buildings across the US, including Milwaukee City Hall.";

In Milwaukee and across the country Monday night, buildings were lit with images denouncing rape culture.

The topic of sexual assault has reached fever pitch since a 2005 recording of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump was released where he joked about not having to ask women for permission to inappropriately touch them. Women have also lobbed allegations sexual misconduct at former President Bill Clinton, husband of Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

Credit Christine Lamitina
Susannah Bartlow (Pathfinders), Maryanne Clesceri (The Healing Center) and Cathy Arney (Pathfinders) lead the discussion.

On Monday night, WUWM in conjunction with Pathfinders brought together community members interested in learning more about rape culture, and how they can help stop the progression, for a community conversation. Susannah Bartlow and Cathy Arney from Pathfinders were joined by Maryanne Clesceri from The Healing Center to lead the discussion.

Definition of Rape Culture:

“What rape culture is, is a culture that tells us that some people have a right to other people’s bodies and that that right should not be questioned, and if it is questioned, then there’s a lot of tension, there’s a lot of challenge and often there’s a lot of physical  violence,” Susannah Bartlow says.

“You think about all these different things that subtly happen to you and you don’t report. This is part of the rape culture that we think well that’s too small,” Maryanne Clesceri says.

By the numbers:

“The statistic of 1 in 4 girls, 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted  by the time they’re 18, that statistic has not changed in the 35 years I’ve been doing this work…My exposure in the world says that men are sexually abused as much as women are. Little boys are sexually abuses as much as little girls are,” Cathy Arney says.

“Trauma is not defined by the action that’s taken, it’s defined by the response and impact on the body and on the nervous system, the psyche, the impact on someone’s behavior, their life... The impact anywhere on that spectrum could be the same. Someone being grabbed at a party could be the same as someone who experienced a form of penetration,” Bartlow says.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.